The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is moving swiftly to pass requirements for drone registration of alldronesbefore Christmas gift giving. In a joint press conference today led by Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox and FAA administrator Michael Huerta, they announced the creation of the task force with recommendations due by November 20. The Agency plans to have new regulations in place by mid-December. Also participating in the press conference were representatives from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the Air Line Pilots Association and the Academy of Model Aircraft, all whom support the drone registration requirement.

Unsafe operation leading to drone registration requirement

Sightings of drones by pilots have doubled this year. Injuries from drones have occurred and drones have been spotted over sporting events and even interfering with wildfire firefighting. The FAA currently receives around 100 reports each month from pilots noting drones near airports and planes. This has led to serious concerns over a drone striking a windshield or actually being sucked into an engine.

So far, no manned airplane collisions have been reported, but Huerta states that the ‘near miss’ incidents signal a trend that shows drone operators are not taking the use of airspace seriously. Secretary Foxx added that drone registration will send a signal to users that entering national airspace is a serious matter and there will be consequences for those who do not fly their drones in a safe manner.

When incidents have occurred, finding the drone has not been an issue, but finding the offendingowner/operator is. Requiring registration will eliminate that problem and help provide education on issues of airspace safety and provide accountability.

Not all models will require registration

The task force is set to work out the specifics of the registration requirements.

It is probable that most toys and small drones will be exempt as they only weigh one or two pounds and cannot fly any higher than a few hundred feet. The requirements will lean most on drones that fly higher and are heavier than a couple of pounds and pose a threat to manned aircraft.Registration will probably be retroactive.

There is speculation on whether the FAA will issue the new regulations under their emergency rulemaking authority. Given that the timeframe set for the new drone registration regulations is accelerated, it is difficult to imagine otherwise, but Secretary Foxx declined to comment on that possibility.

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